2011 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport SE AWC

As today's A.D.D. culture has filtered into the auto market, new niches seem to pop up overnight, and they're immediately swamped with competitors. The latest auto niche is the small crossover, and here's Mitsubishi on the vanguard with the Outlander Sport (although the Nissan Juke, with its megabucks ad budget, may be more well-known).

The Outlander Sport was created from the Outlander by trimming the front overhang and chopping the rear (the latter move taking a good bit of the cargo capacity along with it). Because the wheelbase was left intact, passenger space is largely preserved, and the Outlander Sport can comfortably seat adults in the rear -- not something that can be said for the more stylized Juke.

This is not, however, to suggest that the passenger accommodations here are plush. In typical Mitsubishi style, most of the cabin is trimmed in hard plastic. Seats are very firm, and the cloth upholstery is very basic. Also in typical Mitsubishi style, there's a gaggle of tech available, including a booming sound system, keyless ignition, a backup camera, and navigation. The nav unit, though, has the horrendous ergonomics of an aftermarket system, with its screen surrounded by small, flat buttons.

While most crossovers are content to work out the specifics of the power flow in their all-wheel-drive systems on their own, the Outlander Sport has a knob with which drivers can select FWD, AWD, or AWD Lock (more rear torque bias, really). That's fine, but the powertrain is otherwise a weak point. The engine is noisy, a situation exacerbated by the CVT (a five-speed manual can be had on front-wheel-drive models only). Power is adequate, but EPA fuel economy isn't terribly impressive, at 24/29 mpg city/highway. That latter point, unfortunately, is true of other small crossovers as well.

Joe Lorio, Senior Editor

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I like the OS's styling, too.Agreed regarding Mitsu's abysmal dealership network...The population of my city is upward of 300K, yet only one Mitsu dealership exists within 50 miles, paired with a Ford (?) dealership, and poorly located in a very shoddy area that I don't care to visit regularly for service and what-not.
This is definitely the best looking small cross over vehicle imo. Mitsubishi, if your listening, put some more h.p. in these things. I'd settle for 25 or 26 mpg if sufficient power is available.(ie 180-200 h.p.) Most people would agree with me I think.

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